We head to Piazzetta di San Marco. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon and the place is very crowded with tourists. We could go into Basilica San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale, or Museo Correr, but laziness has set in. Instead, we sit at one of the cafes farther away from San Marco because it is less crowded and doesn’t have a group playing old Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra tunes. (Is that what Italians think American tourists expect in Italy?) We decide to enjoy the sun, some wine and some people watching.
We order a bottle of wine from the Veneto. It comes with olives on ice which makes it refreshing. We haven’t had lunch so we each order a panini. My cheese, tomato and lettuce is exactly that, no dressing of any sort and the bun is plain, entirely bereft of butter or any spread. But the bun is toasted and the cheese and tomato have flavour so it is not as dreary as it might be. Scott’s salumi panini is just bun and slices of salumi. Again, a lesson not to expect much in the way of good food near a major tourist attraction. This place also had one of the weirdest toilets. It was only 8 – 10 inches high and no seat. And this was for donne, women. I had been warned about lack of toilet paper but no one told me I’d have to practice my deep knee bends.
We sit for quite a while people watching including the drama of some teenage Asian girl running around screaming until she falls into a heaping crying. A crowd gathers around, police are fetched and we never figure out what it was about as she is up and walking away eventually.
We are window shopping in the arcaded area of the square when the gun goes off and the pigeons all fly up, swirl around and settle back. Someone told me this was to scare them off, but it obviously doesn’t work.
We left San Marco, I have no idea what route we took, but eventually found ourselves looking at the Rialto Bridge. That I can find on my map.
We keep wandering around looking in shops and generally making our way back to the hotel. Before returning to our room, Scott stops at a jewellers with some unique looking rings. We have to get buzzed in and our conversation with the jeweller is conducted half in English, half in Italian. Scott leaves with an interesting copper and silver ring done in “domasco” style.
We finish off a bottle of Brunello that we dragged with us from Rome, then wander around again looking for somewhere to eat. We end up at an empty fish market which still smells fishy.
Next to it, across a small bridge, is Osteria Antice Poste Vechie [Rialto – Pescheria – 30170, Venezia tel: 39 041 721822]. The menu is almost all fish and given its proximity to the fish market, we hope it is good. It’s a little after 7:00 p.m. so the place is not busy.
There are a number of rooms that seem to be filled largely with people not speaking Italian. I hear French, German and some other European languages I don’t recognize. The décor plays upon the old in their name and rooms are decorated with antiques. There is a rather awkwardly painted but amusing frieze along the wall of the room we are in showing the seven deadly sins and only two of the virtues.
Despite the apparent tourist orientation, the fish is good and relatively inexpensive. It is not a bad find. Their business card says it is the oldest restaurant in Venice.
We are not sure we’re going in the right direction back to our hotel but we find a tabaccheria to buy a long distance calling card and an enoteca, Vini da Pinto, which has a good collection of wines. We have to say in Italian that we want to buy bottles of wine. (Vorrei comprare due bottelgie di vino rosso, per favore.) We’ve got that sentence down pat by this point. We buy 2 Brunello (as our red count is low) and manage to get back to the hotel.
We call the girls who tell us it is snowing in Calgary. We drink some wine and play with the uneven floor by rolling corks and oranges to see where they will go.